Look again, that small black bird on the lake is not a duck at all! The American Coot has a small head with a white bill and forehead, and is frequently seen mixed in with ducks and geese on lakes and ponds throughout the year. A member of the rail family, the American Coot isn’t as shy as its cousins, feeding plainly in sight on aquatic vegetation by diving or feeding with his head underwater, similar to other waterfowl. Somewhat awkward-looking on land, coots must run across long stretches of water to take flight. They build floating nests from plant material, and the young can swim right after they hatch.
As you can hear in this ringtone, with the deepest of all goose voices, the Canada Goose has a distinctive look and is found all over North America, the UK and Northern Europe. Some birds stay in one place all year (like your local golf course maybe?) and some migrate between breeding grounds and wintering areas. Birds who are not breeding often go to a safe northerly place to molt.
The haunting call of the Loon is ubiquitous on lakes in the woods of the Northern US and Canada. The long, haunting song almost sounds like a wolf howl. They also have a distinct call that is called a "laugh" that sounds a little bit like a person laughing. All of their vocalizations are unique and beautiful, and help define the spirit of the northern wilderness.
Common Loons need wild places. Their heavy, torpedo-like bodies are built for swimming fast after fish in lakes and ponds. In fact, Common Loons are so well-made for swimming that they cannot walk on land. Their legs are so far back on their bodies, and their bodies are so heavy, that they cannot stand upright.
These birds' lives are completely linked to water and they go ashore only to raise their young. Mercury poisoning is a current threat to loons, as is lead poisoning from fishing sinkers. If you fish, think about using sinkers and jigs made from tin, steel or a tungsten-nickel alloy rather than lead. You'll be helping loons, eagles and lots of other animals! This beautiful loon call ringtone is a wonderful reminder of the deep woods.
The Mallard duck is found in freshwater lakes and streams all across North America. This male has the gorgeous green iridescent head for which Mallards are known. The females are much less flashy and their brown feathers blend in well as they incubate the eggs and care for their ducklings. This mallard duck quack ringtone makes a great message alert.
It's hard to believe that this bird is not native to North America and Europe, but they were introduced from Asia as game for hunting and it is believed thy were brought to the UK as early as the 11th C. Known in Europe as the Common Pheasant, their numbers are declining as they nest on the ground in deep field cover and their nests are often destroyed by farming. As a result, many populations of these pheasants are artificially maintained by captive introductions. During the breeding season, the males have a harem which they defend from other males - sometimes in pitched battles.
These pretty and sociable white geese with black wingtips have made a huge recovery since their numbers declined nearly 100 years ago due to over-hunting. Snow Geese nest on the high arctic tundra in Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Siberia, and during migration can be seen in huge numbers in staging areas. They are fast, high-altitude flyers and are easily found when on the ground as their sound generally precedes them!
One of the most beautiful, elegant and possibly one of the quirkiest ducks in North America is the Wood duck. With the male’s gorgeous colors, beautifully patterned feathers and green crest, he is a delight to behold. This duck, not surprisingly, loves the woods and truly make it his home. Wood ducks will nest in holes at a good height in trees and are the only ducks equipped with claws. They will also nest in nest boxes put up around the edges of wooded lakes. The males make a sort of whistling sound.